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Interview with South Sydney Coach, Michael Maguire

Michael Maguire Interview

Sydney Unleashed catches up with South Sydney coach, Michael Maguire.

From his playing days with the Canberra Raiders and now defunct Adelaide Rams, rugby league was always home for Michael Maguire. Now head coach at the South Sydney Rabbitohs, he held the clipboard as assistant to Craig Bellamy at the Storm before moving to English Super League taking control of the Wigan Warriors. Since 2012, the Bunnies have been the recipient of his coaching skills leading them to win the 2014 Grand Final.

Now an author, his book ‘A Year To Remember’ looks at the behind-the-scenes atmosphere, tactics and road to that glory. Inside is an array of glossy unforgettable pictures – it’s not just a book for fans of the cardinal and myrtle foundation club but a great read for all fans of the greatest game of all.

Shane A. Bassett: Since getting the head coach role at Souths, have you been writing a book every season but just happened to publish this one due to the Grand Final victory?

Michael Maguire: It came about because of the success we had at the back end of the previous season. Not something I ever thought of until someone approached me during the following season suggesting a book would be good for the memory of our great fans and give a little bit to the rugby league fan behind the scenes of coaching. All the ups and downs but eventually the achievement was worth it. The book is an insight at what a coaching team goes through.

SAB: Did you keep a diary or talk to coaching staff for game day recollections?

MM: I always keep notes from every match then the rest was memory around games. I like to think I am thorough week in week out remembering what works and the things that didn’t.

SAB: Stating the obvious, what was the most rewarding moment leading up to the final GF siren?

MM: Being in the change rooms at the end of the season seeing my boys in a state of euphoria. There are too many to pinpoint, but getting to know the players, understanding them and believing in what we are trying to do is satisfying. One standout is always inside that change room after a win as the boys sing the team song.

SAB: It seems almost impossible to win back-to-back NRL premierships in this era, did you still have complete faith Souths could go all the way in the 2015 season after an influx of injuries?

MM: Good question, yes I did. A lot has to happen through a season to be consistent. Winners North Queensland this year, combinations clicked and few injuries. Those things didn’t always happen for us not allowing the surge in ladder position like last year. Players always had belief.

SAB: Will your book appeal to sports readers in general or only a South Sydney fanbase?

MM: I would like to think it is much more a rugby league read for people to understand what a professional coaching team goes through to achieve. Not only Souths fans will be glued to this book but for all fans who turn up to a game and enjoy what their team is doing.

SAB: What kind of an influence do the old boys/ex-players have around Redfern?

MM: They mean everything creating a path for us towards the premierships this club has won in all eras. We got our 21st Grand Final win and the group coming into 2016 want to continue. There is a ton to go into pre-season before we even start thinking of that but to see the joy that the old boys got out of us winning finals is good for the young squad to understand it’s an everlasting memory to be part of club history. As a coach, I admire the iconic people who have come before me.

SAB: Other than two referees, what is the main on field difference since your playing days?

MM: Being full time has taken the game forward and how athletic some of the boys are.

SAB: Is Russell Crowe crucial to Souths going forward?

MM: He is a massive part of what makes the Bunnies what they are, kind of like the old boys presence, dedication, support and behind the scenes influence.

SAB: Can any NRL player run out for Souths or is there a certain type of player you look for when recruiting?

MM: That’s a good question, all types of players can play for Souths throughout the years, but ones who work hard, have a dream about doing something special is the kind the team needs.

SAB: How close, if you were as reports suggested, were you to coaching Newcastle in 2016?

MM: My focus is always around Souths, I appreciated the talk and the fact people saw that as a possible opportunity for me but Souths are a great club, a place where I indeed enjoy coaching.

SAB: Now you’re an author and got the taste for it, any more books in the works?

MM: Not quite sure. As more of a private type person, it was certainly different for me to do as a one-off but never say never.

SAB: What can supporters of the Bunnies look forward to in the 2016 season?

MM: The boys are keen to getting back on the paddock building what we have always set out to. 2016 is a new year, clean slate, it gives every one involved equal opportunity. There is a sharp young group coming into the squad along with the senior boys and it brings a chance to lift the standards of what we are as a club on and off the field. Leadership and accountability I expect everyone to bring into this new season.

SAB: Would you ever consider coaching the Test team or Origin if the position was offered?

MM: One day, it’s something I would aspire to if someone knocks on the door, an opportunity I would accept. However, we have some very good potential national coaches around and two great origin coaches at the moment so my focus remains with Souths.

SAB: Do you have a favourite Russell Crowe movie?

MM: Well I’m not about to isolate one, he makes some great films that help us do what we are doing. Being involved so much helps our cause, an honourable man who loves his Rugby League is great for the game.

SAB: With the Sevens tournament kicking off the season, will you be sending a full strength team?

MM: I’ll assess that closer to the time, we take it seriously but no squad outline just yet.

A YEAR TO REMEMBER: Released by Allen & Unwin books. Now available RRP $32.99 

Proceeds from the sale of the book go towards equipment and coaching facilities for the South Sydney Rabbitohs Football Department.

Shane A. Bassett

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